A 2-0 victory away to Dinamo Zagreb secured a winning start to West Ham’s first-ever Europa League group stage campaign.
It was also their first European fixture since losing in qualifying for the same competition to Astra Giurgiu for a second consecutive year back in the 2016/17 season.
The in-form Michail Antonio predictably opened the scoring in the 21st minute when he latched onto a loose backpass from Kevin Theophile-Catherine before rounding the keeper and finishing into an empty net.
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Late in the first half though, and early in the second, West Ham had to battle a resurgent Dinamo Zagreb who threatened with chances that fell to Bruno Petkovic and Luka Ivanusec.
However, a marvellous solo goal from Rice less than 5 minutes into the second half did well to take the wind out of Zagreb’s sails.

Antonio gave Moyes' team the perfect start

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The typically defensive-minded midfielder gave us a rare glimpse of his attacking traits with a powerful run starting deep in midfield that resulted in a left-footed finish past Dominik Livakovic.
The Hammers then proceeded to see out the game with considerable ease.
This win is made all the more important by the revamped Europa League format that means only the top team from each group progresses automatically into the knockout stages.
Tricky back-to-back encounters against Manchester United await in the coming days before West Ham return to Europa League action at home to Rapid Vienna at the end of the month.

Declan Rice celebrates his goal

Image credit: Getty Images

TALKING POINT - Transfer market maturity paying off

For most of the time that David Gold and David Sullivan have owned the club, West Ham's level of incompetence has been a constant source of hilarity for rival fans.
That's largely why it feels so strange that the club are suddenly on the opposite end of the spectrum and that after numerous false dawns, this one shows no signs of going away.
They've gone from a scatterbrained quest to buy every striker who's ever kicked a ball in professional football to showing a remarkable level of self-restraint in the transfer market, even opting against buying a back-up to Antonio this summer due to a newfound reluctance to overspend.
The appointment of David Moyes surely has a lot to do with why West Ham have stopped spending like a child who doesn't realise their parents' credit card is being billed for all of the new Fortnite add-ons they're getting, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Declan Rice (West Ham)

He was essential to the Hammer's mid-block that made it difficult for Zagreb to retain possession and controlled the tempo nicely when on the ball too, capping off his performance with a brilliant solo goal that effectively sealed the win.

PLAYER RATINGS

Dinamo Zagreb: Livakovic 5, Sutalo 5, Lauritsen 6, Theophile-Catherine 4, Ristovski 6, Ademi 6, Misic 6, Franjic 5, Ivanusec 7, Petkovic 7, Orsic 5...Subs: Juric 5, Moharrami 6, Tolic 6, Menalo N/A, Gojak N/A
West Ham: Fabianski 6, Cresswell 7, Diop 7, Zouma 7, Fredericks 8, Soucek 7, Rice 9, Fornals 7, Lanzini 6, Vlasic 6, Antonio 8...Subs: Benrahma 6, Bowen 6, Noble N/A, Masuaku N/A, Yarmolenko N/A

KEY MOMENTS

21' - GOAL!!! Theophile-Catherine plays a weak backpass to Livakovic, but Antonio gets there before him, rounds the keeper and finishes into an empty net for his first ever European goal! It was never going to be anyone else, was it?
24' - SAVED!! Fredericks receives the ball on the overlap from Antonio and is through on goal, but Livakovic does well to come off his line and narrow the angle, helping him to keep out the low shot.
41' - BLOCKED! Vlasic strikes a rebounded effort with plenty of venom, but it's blocked by the Zagreb defence.
43' - CLOSE!! It's Vlasic again. He's growing in confidence! The Croatian receives the ball on the edge of the box with his back to goal, swivels past the defender and lashes a shot that's only inches left of the goal.
47' - CLOSE!! Zagreb look a different team already. Petkovic has the ball on the edge of the box, shimmies to his right and shoots marginally wide of the goal. Great start to the half.
50' - GOAL!!! What a run from Rice! He picks up the ball deep in midfield, charges down the left flank, shrugging off a defender in the process and cuts back inside to finish past Livakovic with his left foot. Great way to negate Zagreb's growing influence on the game.
54' - CLOSE!! Ivanusec shoots from range and it takes a wild deflection off Diop that almost helps it find the back of the net! Fabianski's feet are set though and all he can do is nervously watch the ball go wide.
58' - CLOSE!! Ivanusec nearly pulls one back for Zagreb again! He makes his into the box and shoots for the bottom-right corner but it's just wide.

KEY STATS

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